Blender 3D as a project starts to pick up the pace in an increasing way. It seems that more developers are finding the project and getting used to the codebase. The Google Summer of Code projects certainly have been great, and will be in the future.
The developers are active on IRC and the mailinglists, and often help out those who need guidance through the code or with the build process.
The metrics for the project are very nice, and show great activity, increasingly so.
Blender is an amazing free 3D animation studio that has great capabilities for all sorts of 3D content creation. The new sculpt and retopology tools make it extremely easy to learn and use for modeling even for fairly novice users, while the advanced tools such as its powerful weighting and rigging capabilities; simulation tools and particle hair make it powerful enough for high end users.
There are really no tools that compare to it available in the opensource world; and its commercial competitors such as Maya, Houdini, XSI, and 3DS Max cost multiple thousands of dollars for a single license with equivalent functionality.
Many years ago I discovered a little ray-tracing tool called POV-Ray. After months of messing around I made a somewhat surrealistic still life from a c language scripting interface. It rendered in less than four days :)
About two years ago I discovered Blender and after a few fits and starts with it's very cool but not much like Windows interface I'm quite simply in love. If I can complain, it is only to say that the coders add and refine functionality faster than I can learn it. I'm also impressed with all the documentation efforts; in wiki, books and video tutorials. It is unusual for such projects to be so well documented. I will be using this software as long as I can see (until I'm blind).
New editing and render export features are in the works and so I look forward to revisiting POV-Ray through the eyes of Blender.
I sincerely recommend that you take a long tour of the Blender site and chat with the developers and artists that make it all possible. They are really friendly people.